Saigon is famous for its vibrant nightlife and food, but finding the best places is difficult for tourists, so is joining a tour a good idea?
We decided to try the most popular tours in town to see if they’re worth it.
Our first tour was the XO Foodie, and below is our review.
About XO Tours
With almost ten years of experience, XO Tours has become one of Saigon’s most trusted food tours and was the first to feature all-female bike drivers.
We tried their premier tour – The XO Foodie – listed as one of the top nine food tours in the world by Forbes Magazine.
XO Foodie offers a unique and authentic look into the lives of the local people and lets guests try some of the not-so-well-known Vietnamese dishes.
What to expect on The XO Foodie?
We were picked up from our hotel by our designated tour drivers, Hang and Hong.
Before we got on the bike, our guides explained the traffic in Saigon and how to safely mount and be a passenger on a motorcycle. Traffic in Saigon is crazy, we know!
They spoke clearly, with good English.
Throughout our rides together, they continuously talked with us and explained each area we were driving through. They made us feel very comfortable and were very knowledgeable.
First Stop – Introductions and Soup
Our first stop was to meet the rest of the tour group, including our charismatic tour leader, Sang.
He introduced all 14 of our tour group and welcomed us with a brief introduction of the tour.
We were quite impressed that he could remember all our names. Again, his English was clear and very easy to understand.
After the introduction, we dined on a special soup from central Vietnam.
The dish originated from Hue – the former capital of Vietnam – and is known for its balance of spicy, salty, and umami flavors.
Sang explained the different ingredients and the final preparations before eating.
Second Stop – China Town
We then rode onto Chinatown. The moment we entered this vibrant community, we could see the differences in architecture and lifestyle.
We noticed the shops had signs in Chinese characters. The neighborhoods were lively and colorful, with many wholesale shops selling Christmas and Tet decorations.
We took a brief stop and gathered together.
Our tour leader then explained the significance of this historical place and talked about many things that most tourists wouldn’t know, using photos on his tablet to help. Sang spoke well, and we learned a lot.
We then moved on to a local market in a nearby district.
Along the way, our guides explained how things work in a Vietnamese market and why many people in this market sleep overnight at their stalls.
Third Stop – Barbeque and Beer!
After another sightseeing spot, we were driven to the next district.
We sat down in a busy local restaurant to try some delicious barbecued meats.
There were the usual meats and some that tourists might otherwise have never tried. All were delicious!
Also, at this stage, the beer and shots came out!
As we shared a table with a vegetarian couple, we had the chance to try the vegetarian dishes on offer. We sampled morning glory and Banh Khot.
The final was a bit of a challenge.
The food and drink were unlimited, and we left with happy stomachs!
Fourth Stop – ‘Little Singapore’
The next stop was a wealthier area in a central district, where Sang gave us some insightful details about this unique part of the city.
“District 7 is like a little Singapore in Saigon,” – Sang explained.
This neighborhood looked distinctly different from the other areas. There were not many motorbikes on the streets, but instead expensive European cars.
Last stop – Seafood Finale
If you love seafood, this will be your favorite stop!
We made our way to a district famous for its seafood and dined in a restaurant full of locals. Our favorite dishes were the crab, scallops, and clams.
With our stomachs already bursting, we also managed to try some traditional Vietnamese desserts.
Our XO guides
Our tour guides, Hang and Hong were amazing!
Their driving skills were excellent, and they spoke fluent English. We also liked that they were wearing the Ao Dai – a traditional Vietnamese dress.
They were both very friendly. We learned a lot from them about each neighborhood we journeyed through.
Pros and Cons
- Incredibly attentive and safe drivers
- Unlimited food and drinks, with plenty of encouragement to ask for more!
- Opportunities to try some more ‘unusual’ foods
- Very informative guides, with clear English
- Vegetarian and vegan options
- Photographs are taken throughout and emailed to you later
- Offer a professionally edited video option
- Included comprehensive medical motorbike insurance, up to $10k
- Limited availability due to popularity – booking two weeks early is recommended!
- A bit more expensive compared to other tours – although we argue it’s worth it.
- People with fish allergies are limited to the vegetarian option
- Since the tour tries to give an overview of much of the city, there was a lot of time spent riding
- Some of the more unusual dishes might put off the squeamish
How to book the XO Foodie tour?
If you’d like to jointhe XO Foodie on your trip to Ho Chi Minh city, the booking process is quick and simple.
We received our confirmation email quickly.
Altogether, we were very impressed by the tour. Our drivers drove safely and talked to us all the way. The food was incredible and plentiful, and the drinks were unlimited too!
As always, all opinions are our own.